Our Commitment to Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
Since Outreach’s founding 40+ years ago, the agency has provided access to treatment to anyone struggling with substance misuse. Throughout its history, the organization has grown to serve more people with addiction services throughout New York City and Long Island and has continued to offer care to anyone in need – regardless of their race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, physical ability, language, immigration, or insurance status and, or ability to pay. A commitment to Diversity and Cultural Competence has always been, and remains to this day, a part of the agency’s DNA. Outreach’s Values Statement affirms this commitment to, what is now called, Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI):
- Outreach believes that Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion are a part of the natural order of things. We understand that each individual is unique, and we recognize our individual differences and needs. This principle guides all agency activities with clients, staff, and communities it serves. We strive for inclusion by being affirming, just and kind and we always look for the best in others.
- Outreach is committed to social justice, equitable treatment of all, the diversity of our employees and the clients, students, professionals, and others we serve and to ensure that all we interact with have a voice.
- We recognize the ill effects of racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, genderism, and all other forms of discrimination. We seek to redress these effects by advocating for those who have been harmed, and by preventing the further victimization of marginalized and oppressed individuals and groups. We are also aware of the deleterious impact of trauma in the lives of those we work with and are committed to providing an emotionally and physically safe environment where people can thrive and grow.
To address the unfortunate ongoing crisis, during the summer of 2020, following the uprisings in response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others, Outreach’s President and CEO Debra Pantin in partnership with the Board of Directors felt as an agency dedicated to providing compassionate and equitable care for all, it was important to join the national conversation around racial injustice. They also felt it was time to build on the organization’s commitment to ensure that it fulfills its anti-racist, socially inclusive values.
To that end, last year, Ms. Pantin and the Board initiated a process to update Outreach’s approach to JEDI. Guided by the National Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Standards (CLAS) in Health Care, Outreach is now developing a new agency-wide JEDI plan that incorporates input from underserved populations, including service users, community members, staff, and families. The first step in this process was to hire a Chief Diversity Officer to lead the effort.
Alexis Gadsden, formerly Outreach’s Chief Compliance Officer, who has over 40 years of clinical, direct service, compliance, strategy, and management experience in behavioral health, was named the agency’s first Chief Diversity Officer. Since assuming the role, Gadsden has assembled a 20-person JEDI committee comprised of a diverse range of clinical, administrative, support, and management staff working throughout Outreach’s treatment and support programs and representing many of the communities the agency serves.
The JEDI committee meets regularly and is helping to inform all aspects of the agency’s JEDI strategy. This includes review of literature, speaking with thought leaders, and collecting quantitative and qualitative consumer and staff satisfaction data generated by Outreach’s annual survey process, to inform the JEDI plan and refine goals on an ongoing basis. These activities coupled with regular discussions with the Board and leadership, serve as the groundwork for Outreach’s plan which seeks to advance anti-racist outcomes to ensure the organization continues to be an inclusive and equitable place for all cultures, indigenous groups, LGBTQIA+, and other underrepresented individuals, families, and staff.
Stay tuned for updates on the JEDI committee’s work and JEDI plan. For more information, please contact: email@example.com.